At the trial of reputed Genovese capo Michael "Mikey Cigars" Coppola, charged among other things with the 1977 slaying of John "Johnny Coca-Cola" Lardiere, the jury yesterday heard from Raymond Zychlinski who was checked into the Red Bull Inn in Somerset, NJ with his girlfriend when he heard the murder go down in the parking lot outside their room.
As the girlfriend dozed, Zychlinski heard a car pull up outside, followed by a "horrifying scream." "It was a scream like I'd never heard in my life. He knew he was going to die," said Zychlinski, who testified as a defense witness at the trial of Michael Coppola, 63, a reputed Genovese capo accused of carrying out the hit. A series of gunshots boomed right outside the window. "I grabbed my girlfriend and pulled her off the bed," the witness said, adding that he went outside after the car pulled off and saw Lardiere's body lying in front of the door. Coppola's lawyers called Zychlinski to the witness stand to refute earlier testimony that Lardiere taunted the gunman during the hit, telling him, "What are you going to do now tough guy?" "I heard no conversation," said Zychlinski.
Former Luchese crime soldier Thomas Ricciardi has testified that Coppola told him that John (Johnny Coca Cola) Lardiere cracked, "What are you going to do now, tough guy?" after Coppola's gun jammed. That's not the way it went down, said Raymond Zychlinski. "I heard a car casually pulling up, then a few seconds later I heard a man start to scream," Zychlinski, 53, said in Brooklyn Federal Court. "It was a horrible scream like I never heard in my life. Like he knew he was going to be killed." When shots rang out, Zychlinksi pulled his girlfriend Ann Marie out of the bed in case any stray rounds flew into the ground-floor love nest. Zychlinski looked outside after he heard a car drive away. "There was Johnny laying on the ground," he recalled of the grisly scene.